New Library in East Bali Set to Boost Literacy Levels

Two Australian and Balinese teenagers are spearheading a project to build the first library in an impoverished area of East Bali, out of a passion to encourage more local youth to read books and boost literacy levels. Samara Welbourne from the Sunshine Coast and Tyas Latra from Karangasem in East Bali are aiming to raise $15,000 so their dream of building the library in the extremely poor area of Bungaya village, can become a reality.

The young women developed a friendship while Samara lived in Bali with her mother, Cherrell, who used to be an AVI volunteer at PUSPADI Bali, and it was there she met Tyas, who is the daughter of PUSPADI Bali’s Director I Nengah Latra. The library will be built on land owned by Latra.

The girls’ vision began when they heard that the Indonesian Government mandated that every child must read for 15 minutes a day to try and boost the national literacy rates.

“I love reading and I really wanted to help the children in my village to as well so it can open up opportunities for them,” Tyas said.

Many of the youth in Bungaya village and surrounding communities have little to no literacy skills, due to living in poverty and a lack of an education.

“The library will increase the Bungaya residents’ reading and English skills, which will improve their chances of finding a job and lifting themselves out of poverty,” Samara said. “It’ll be a space used for cultural events like dancing, and it will also be accessible for people with a disability so everyone can equally enjoy the library.”

Samara has approached Journeyman International, a group of US architects who do free designs for social good or humanitarian projects and impressed by the idea, they have drawn up the library’s plans, which includes a bale and community space for cultural performances or educational seminars.

The library, kitchen, restroom and bale are easily accessed using connecting paths, ramps and stairs, as well as low rock walls creating benches throughout the site.

“Through the library to the back side of the site, the open floor plan of the bale enhances the incredible view of Mount Agung,” Nicole Thompson, Architect at Journeyman International said. “There is a flow between all of the uses and structures, as well as the project providing the community with a learning sanctuary to gather and empower one another.”

The library’s overall costs are $20,000 AUD and the teenagers have been busily fundraising to reach their target. They have set up a GoFundMe page, for people to donate or find out more about the library.

Dr Helena Studdert, the Australian Consulate General in Bali, providing $5,000 in funding for the library project (through the Australian Government’s Direct Aid Program). The DAP program funds projects which reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development outcomes.

“We really appreciate the Australian Consulate-General in Bali and others showing their support for the library because we are building something truly special for the community,” Tyas said.

Rotaract on the Sunshine Coast has also pledged $5,000 and a team at Bali Island School have been fundraising for the library.

Samara and Tyas are encouraging others to donate or become involved in the project.

“We appreciate any donation which all helps to build a library that residents in Bungaya village, including people with a disability and others in surrounding communities, will be able to enjoy,” Samara said. “People can also donate books, especially Indonesian books for children, so they have access to quality Bahasa and English reading material.”

The teenagers are working with PUSPADI Bali, which is one of the island’s top NGOs providing high quality rehabilitation, education, training and empowerment programs for people with a disability, during the library’s construction phase.

PUSPADI Bali staff will manage the building of the library while Tyas, Samara, her mother Cherrell, Graeme (an Australian librarian), Balinese and Australian students, as well as others, will help them on site. Construction will start in March and expected to be finished in May, with the library due to open soon after.

“I see the extreme poverty in areas of East Bali and there are children, including those with a disability, who desperately want to read and have a good education but with no means to do so,” Nengah Latra, PUSPADI Bali’s Director said. “The library will be free for the community to use, so they have the opportunity to come and learn to read at their own pace in a safe environment.”

To donate, go to the library’s GoFundMe page or by contacting Nengah Latra (Tyas’s father) on 0812 3990 701 or Cherrell Picton (Samara’s mother) via Book donations can also be made by contacting Latra or Cherrell.

For media queries, contact Stephanie Fitzpatrick on 0812 845 393 29 or or Tini Surgi on 0823 409 190 020 or